Testimony from students and chaplains bent on raising the profile of young adults in decision-making bodies throughout the Church energized Evangelism Committee hearings June 15.
Kate Ketcham, assistant chaplain at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, supports campus ministries becoming mission congregations. "I came out of a campus ministry at William and Mary [in Virginia] and I know campus ministry fosters leadership … It would be a dream to be a mission congregation and have voice and vote at diocesan convention. We are now unable to respond," she said.
Several students from the Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) at Washington University were present to offer testimony. Reynolds Whalen, an ECM member, joked about the early hour with committee members who remarked that college students being present at 7:30 a.m. certainly demonstrated their commitment.
Whalen brought the point of representation to bear when he said he had to change his church membership to a parish near campus in order to stand for election as a deputy. Whalen is an alternate for the Diocese of Missouri. "I would like to be a voice for my church home," he said.
Whalen told the committee that students participated on diocesan committees and that students were engaged in ministry and interested in the wider church. "We have produced a lot of young priests – it's strange that we can't have voice," he said.
Fellow student Cat Crowder said, "being a mission congregation would allow us to have a voice …It is important that people who are excited about their ministry should be able to speak."
While mission status would bring up the issue of diocesan assessments, the Rev. Mary Hileman, a committee member from Oklahoma, said the group also considered campus ministries as potential locations for church planting. The Very Rev. Martin I. Yabroff, Northern Indiana, took exception to the concept of church plant because they would never be self-sufficient "as is the strategic plan for plants."
The value of campus ministries was foremost in the committee discussions as was the need to recognize college ministry as more than outreach. Bishop David Jones of Virginia, co-chair of the committee, pointed out that the self-governance of student organizations has been "wonderful leadership development for dioceses," adding his desire to affirm the value of future leaders by offering a strong resolution to General Convention. The committee will consider an amended version of A041 June 16.
In other legislation, the committee considered a substitute resolution for A038: "Diocesan Development Initiative" that would direct the office of mission at the Church Center to develop new resources, endorse existing programs and encourage dioceses to share best practices in organizational development and leadership training.